Disney released the anticipated remake of its 1941 classic film, Dumbo, this past weekend to disappointing reviews and low box office numbers. The film opened with $45 million dollars its opening weekend, well below exceptions. The film carried a $170 million dollar production budget, which will have to be made up overseas if it does make it domestically.
The remake was directed by Tim Burton, the beloved director that has made classic films like The Nightmare Before Christmas and Edward Scissorhands.
Burton’s remake was made in true Burton style. The film was dark, mysterious, and emotional. The film was a lot darker and sadder then the original. It was almost too dark at times. The small, shy elephant was put through so much turmoil and overall dangerous situations, one could not help but feel extremely awful for him.
Dumbo was different from Disney’s past remakes because in films like Beauty and the Beast and The Jungle Book, audiences were given more of a nostalgic feel. These films referenced back to the original throughout the movie many times, almost becoming replicas of the originals. Dumbo for the most part ignored the original film.
In the original film, Dumbo relies on his mousey friend, Timothy Q. Mouse, to help him deal with being away from his mother. She had been locked away in a cage after she was forced to protect her baby from the terrible ridicule he received from some of the attendees at the circus.
In Burton’s remake, Dumbo relies on his new caretaker, Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his two kids, science focused daughter Milly Farrier (Nico Parker) and playful son Joe Farrier (Finley Hobbins) to help him through the dark times.
In the film, the audience is introduced the Farrier family right from the beginning when Holt returns from the WW1 with a missing arm. It is also known right away that these two kids have had a dark year due to their mothers recent death while their father was at war.
Once Holt returns, the reality of him finding a new role in the circus comes to play when he is assigned to be the new elephant caretaker, which he reluctantly accepts.
This film wasted no time introducing Dumbo, who was born on the first night of Holt’s return and right away they notice his big floppy ears.
Dumbo and all the animals in the film were completely CGI. The CGI was extremely impressive, they all fit well in the aesthetic of the real world environment they were placed in. One can easily appreciate how well the overall film looked.
The circus environment was colorful and vibrant. The Pink Elephants on Parade scene was a example of the CGI working to its full potential, however, it was reimagined as Burton’s vision.
During the second half of the film the audience is introduced to V.A. Vandevere (Micheal Keaton) and Colette Marchant (Eva Green). Vandevere runs the bohemian amusement park, Dreamland. There he tricks the Farrier family and its circus troupe into partnering with him so Dumbo can perform dangerous stunts with Marchant, the trapeze artist.
However, this second half of the film falls flat with weak character development and even weaker plot development.
Overall, while Burton’s version was visually impressive, the story did not reach to the same heights of the original.